Microsoft released sample mashup code that hints more at Office Live's directions and opportunities for developers. What Microsoft calls "Office Live Contact Map" is sample code for creating "a map displaying the location of all of your contacts included in the Contacts list in the Business Contact Manager application when you have either an Office Live Essentials or Premium subscription."
Microsoft's map mashup, which uses Virtual Earth APIs and SharePoint Services 3.0, requires one of the two paid Office Live services--Essentials or Premium. At its core, Office Live is hosted SharePoint.
The code "is a sample of one way that Web services can be used to create Web Parts that enhance Office Live business applications," according to Microsoft.
Some implications: Office Live Contact Map hints at where Microsoft is going with all its "Live" services. While Microsoft initially intended the services to extend core products like Office and Windows, the company is now focusing more on developer opportunities. Over the coming months, Microsoft will increase the volume about Live development opportunities, culminating, I believe, at the MIX conference in April.
Additionally, the sample mashup code is yet another Betty Crocker recipe for showing developers what Microsoft software and services can do together. Here, you have Virtual Earth and hosted SharePoint from Microsoft, but it's a technique companies using SharePoint Server/services could easily extend to their own operations.
All this could be done without need of MapPoint, by the way. The risk Microsoft takes by following Google down the Web platform slippery slope is cannibalizing existing products. Make no mistake, what MapPoint does is a hell of a lot more than what Microsoft is showing here with Virtual Earth APIs and hosted SharePoint. But how much mapping functionality does an organization really need?
Turning the argument around, Microsoft would rather businesses use its mapping APIs than Google's. Finally, the sample code hints at how Microsoft will further differentiate the free Office Live service from the paying tiers. Chris Beiter, Office Live PM has also blogged about this.